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Wedding video planning guide

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What to know before you hire

Most brides consider wedding videos an 'extra'that they will book after all of the essentials like the venue, caterer, dress and the DJ. Unfortunately, they are sorely disappointed when the excitement of the day comes and goes with only the photos and some dried flowers as memories.

They are often so excited that they can hardly remember what vows they said or how their husband held them as they danced to their first song as a married couple.  These moments can only be captured on video.

Forget about those boring home videos -- this isn't your daddy's video camera! These days, wedding professionals are artistic, creative and high-tech. With digital cameras and editing systems, videographers have the tools to make your big day look even better than Trista and Ryan's dream wedding. The competition is stiff, so you have your choice of talented, experienced professionals.

This guide to wedding videos should help you find the right videographer for you and give you tips on how to get the video you want.

Style

Are you a hopeless romantic, chic modern gal, or a wild child? Brides' personalities are unique and their wedding videos should reflect that. Find a professional who recognizes the bride and the groom's styles and who can complement you both. Music, transitions and effects all play a key role in defining the video and can change the entire emotional appeal of a piece. Be clear about who you are and what you like and you will be pleased with the outcome. Consider the videographer's personality, as well, and make sure that you and your fianc� are comfortable with him or her. It will translate to a much more comfortable couple on the big screen.

Edited vs. unedited

There isn't too much debate when it comes to edited or unedited -- it is what it is. Unedited video is the raw footage that the photographer shoots on your wedding day. There is no music, effects, photos or graphics.

Edited video is the most professional and enjoyable to watch. An edited video is generally complied over 40 to 60 hours of post-production time that adds music, photos, graphics, enhanced audio and special effects. This is where the magic comes into the process and the skill of your videographer is put to the test.

Unedited videos are much less expensive and so can fit into the budget much easier. Remember that they can always be edited for a First Anniversary gift or anytime after the wedding. Edited videos are more expensive because of the extensive time spent in the post-production process, but the video is much more interesting and enjoyable to watch.

Demo

Always watch a demo video before booking a videographer. The demo should give you an idea of their style and talent. Remember, this is their best work to date -- if you aren't impressed with their demo, you won't be impressed with your finished video. Also ask to see a recently finished video (within the last two months) to check the quality of a full wedding video, rather than a smattering of weddings.

Remember that not every wedding will have the same components as yours, so don't judge from just one demo. Keep notes on all of the things you like from the various demos and give these to the videographer you choose. A talented professional should be able to pull off anything you ask for.

Extras

Wedding Stories, Photo Montages, Interviews, Pre-Ceremony Coverage, and Scenery shots are all "extras" that can bring the day back to life on video. Check with you professional to see if they will include all of these and ask to see a demo to see how they put these together. A wedding is an experience, not an event, and should be captured on video as such. Each extra piece will help you remember the reason you came together and the excitement of the day.

Contract

Wedding professionals have a lot of experience with contracts, so generally speaking, you should be covered. However, you should check to make sure that you are protected as well as the vendor. Be sure the contract states the name of the videographer covering your wedding in addition to the company's name. Be sure the fees, payment and cancellation policies, start and end times for the event, raw video policy, and copy ordering guidelines are clearly specified. Get any special requests in writing. Any changes made between the contract signing and the wedding should be made in writing to avoid confusion.

On location

Weddings are exciting, action-packed live events that often require changes of location and scenery. An experienced professional will arrive approximately one to two hours before the wedding to get acquainted with the site and begin your pre-ceremony coverage. Videographers have delicate equipment like cameras, monitors, lighting and microphones that they must pack and unpack several times during your wedding. If you want a smooth video, it is a good idea to purchase a package that includes two videographers or provide a coordinator or usher who can assist the videographer from place to place.

Remember that your wedding professionals (videographers, photographers, DJs, etc) will often spend 10 to 12 hours at your event. Plan ahead with the kitchen to try to give them 30 minutes of un-interrupted break time to eat and get refreshed without having to run out and grab photos of your Father-Daughter dance. When your videographer has more energy, they will get more shots and your video will be more creative.

Post-production

An edited video generally requires about 40 hours in the post-production process and can take up to three months to finish, but it is well worth the time and effort. Videographers have varied methods for editing. Some prefer to make each wedding unique and different while others use templates. Templates have pros and cons -- they are a good way of choosing what your finished video will look like, but make sure they don't stick too closely to them or you will end up with a manufactured or "cookie-cutter" look that is neither sincere nor endearing.

Understand the wait times before signing the contract and be patient with your videographer. A beautiful video is worth the wait!

Don't be afraid to put prospective videographers to the test. Interview several and check out their demos. Consult them on their ideas and input and see what kind of working relationship you feel most comfortable with.

These days, you can often find online streaming demos to pre-qualify videographers, save time and get ideas.

Check out www.weddingvideoguide.com to see a directory of wedding videographers in your area and their streaming demos. And don't forget to ask for referrals from friends, family and other wedding professionals.

Your wedding video should be a reflection of your wedding day with all of the emotion and excitement of this special event. Take your time and consult with several professionals before making this important decision.

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